Bear Signs

I see signs of Black Bear, Ursus americanus, up here in the mountains very often, though I don’t see the bears themselves frequently.

An often seen sign of bear, is a pile of bear poop, or bear “scat,” a term used in more sophisticated company. Bear scat can weigh typically, one half pound, to one pound. That should make you realize that these are large animals! What you find in bear scat is, of course, a direct reflection of what the bear has been eating. Ninety percent of a Black Bear’s diet is fruits and berries, and other vegetation, while the other ten percent is other animals, including insects and insect larvae.

Another sign that shows up here on the mountain, is the overturned grill. Care is taken to clean the grill, but I suppose one can never remove the scent of a freshly cooked meal. After all, Black Bears have extremely sensitive noses. It basically happens like this: the afternoon after the grilled dinner has been eaten, at a quiet moment, when no one is expecting it, least of all the visiting bear, there is a sudden, very loud — crash! I look out my studio windows and see a very startled bear running up the mountain, away from the overturned grill. The grill is a hefty, propane grill and is a good sized piece of cooking equipment. It surprises me how often it is turned over. It also is surprising how durable the grill is, coming through with hardly any damage. Surely it is not the same bear every time. It is very apparent that it truly frightens the bear!

Another sign that is encountered is the telltale paw print. On storm doors, on car hoods, on grills. Paw prints many places. And mind you, no trash is left outside up here to attract the bears. No trash to draw the Black Bear, but he figures this is his territory to explore at will. To leave tracks in mud. Tracks that say, “Black Bear was here!”


In the photo of the bear track above, the round object on the far right is a quarter for scale. If you look carefully, you can also see marks left by his claws.

This fellow is quite a climber. He’s gotten himself high into the apple tree, breaking branches along the way. I’ve also got a Montmorency Cherry tree. Cherries from that tree make such scrumptious pies, but I’ve given up trying to get cherries from the tree. Not only do the bears beat me to the cherries, but the tree is also half the size it should be, because of broken branches.

My husband grows Christmas trees. Bears and Christmas trees are not a good combination. Bears have a habit of chomping off the leader of a beautiful Christmas tree, or they may do more damage, breaking the tree further down.

But look at that sweet face!  I would not trade my cabin in the mountains, my cabin surrounded by woods for anything in the world.  I love living in Black Bear country!

I’ve just posted more photographs and information on how Black Bears mark their territory.  You can find that post by clicking here.


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    • says

      I love this post! We don’t have bears where we live, but they are one of my favorite things about spending time in the mountains. Thanks for sharing!

      • Brenda Clements Jones says

        Jody, thank you so much for your kind response. You may not have Black Bears, but I can imagine that you have lots of other very interesting animals!

  1. Mike Korner says

    Thanks for sharing this Brenda. Very enjoyable!

    Sounds like you embrace the reality of your neighbors and are making the best to coexist. Around here (Iowa) we just have to deal with squirrels, raccoons, deer, and coyotes terrorizing things. It’s the same battle in futility that you face albeit with a significantly less daunting “opponent” as your black bears.

    • Brenda Clements Jones says

      Mike, I’m so glad you took the time to read my blog, and that you enjoyed it! I love the world of nature. I too have to deal with all the critters that you’ve mentioned. Actually, coyotes are in the area, but for the time being (they are new to this area), they are more interested in being in the lower elevations than up here where I live.

      There is enough forest around me (I live within hiking distance of Shenandoah National Park) that the animals that might cause problems if I were in a more suburban setting are not a problem.

    • Brenda Clements Jones says

      Hahaha! Thanks for reading my post Janet! I *do* try to keep peace with the world of Mother Nature!

  2. Marilyn says

    Wonderful pictures, as always. If I ran across a track like that, I probably wouldn’t slow down to pick up the quarter. ;)

    • Brenda Clements Jones says

      Marilyn, thanks so much for reading my blog, and I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the pictures! I always tell myself that they are afraid of me, and often that show me just how frightened they *are!* I’d be so unhappy if I couldn’t be out in their world!

      Stay warm!

  3. says

    More wonderful photos! I just read your post on Tendrils. I used to live in a fairly rural area in ME and I LOVED it but my husband did not so here we are now in NY in a very small village on the St. Lawrence. I believe the closest bears to us would be in the Adirondacks. I envy your cabin in the wooded mountains. I love to feed the birds but know that would not be possible with bears around – but the grill? Wow. How do you do store your trash? I would let the bear have the cherries, too. Who would have thought that Christmas trees would be a problem? They are BIG – what a sight!


  1. […] americanus, have been in my yard.  You can read that blog and see my photographs, by clicking here.  Black Bears let other animals know that they are around.  Read on, and find out […]

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